Several weeks ago we, as concerned Christians, met at a local church with some of the striking workers from the Salvation Army Booth Centre on George Street in Ottawa's Byward Market. The staff members spoke first and at length about the people they serve, some with serious mental health problems and those trying to conquer alcoholism or addictions, many of whom are homeless. It was clear to us that these workers, whether as a front-line counsellors or as support staff in the kitchen, must have both skill and dedication to do what they do. These workers have both.
The B.C. Liberal government is poised, once again, to violate the legal rights of workers, this time with Bill 22, which, if it becomes law, will prohibit teachers from striking and limit their collective bargaining rights.
In 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the government had violated the Canadian Charter by imposing legislative restrictions on the rights of health workers to bargain collectively. In April 2011, the British Columbia Supreme Court followed that decision to rule that legislation concerning teachers was unconstitutional, and thereby invalid, because it prohibited bargaining on class size, class composition and the ratios of teachers to students.
Many Canadians know that U.S. retail giant, Target, is coming to Canada. What most people do not know is that thousands of Canadians will be losing their jobs as a result.
Target will be taking over more than 100 Zellers stores. Some of these locations are being re-assigned to other large retailers, but most will be converted to Target stores. Yet the people who currently work in these stores are being let go. There could be up to 15,000 job losses. It does not seem to matter how many years of loyal service workers have provided, how many customers have praised their work, or how many children they are supporting on their wages.
Co-ops are any place run by its members, for its members. Instead of shareholders, there are stakeholders. For example, a housing co-op is owned run by the people who live there, a food co-op is owned run by people who buy that food and a workplace co-op is owned run by the workers. There's no middleman making money off of people's labours. The people who own and manage the co-op are also the ones who use it.
Co-ops are anti-hieratical and operate more horizontally. Everyone has an equal stake in the co-op and therefore has an equal say about how things are run. Some co-operatives use elected board members to make decisions but smaller co-ops just decide how things are run amongst themselves. There's typically more control and direct involvement in smaller co-ops.
It's no secret that people in southwestern Ontario -- Londoners in particular -- are seriously pissed with Caterpillar. In fact, in an unprecedented show of support for labour, both London Mayor Joe Fontana and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty are on record as saying Caterpillar has been unfair to the employees of Electro-Motive.
Thursday afternoon I caught up with the president of CAW Local 27, Tim Carrie, in the lobby of the London Hilton during a break from closure negotiations with Caterpillar.
Meg Borthwick: So Tim, negotiations seem to be progressing ...